A type 2 diabetes drug could prevent Alzheimers disease from developing, new research has suggested.
A small study looking at Victoza (liraglutide), an injectable drug that lowers blood glucose levels, showed it offers protection from the brain disease.
A total of 38 people with Alzheimer’s disease took part in the trial, of which the findings have just been published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. Half the group injected the drug every day for six months.
Researchers from the Aarhus University in Denmark said that the drug prevented a reduction in the amount of energy being used by the brain. The group taking the placebo showed a significant decline in brain energy use over the same period of time.
Professor Jorgen Rungby, who led the initial study, said: “This is a significant step. We now have a drug that appears to have some kind of effect on how the brain works in Alzheimer’s.
“We are eagerly awaiting the results of larger studies but this would suggest we are on the right track.”
Dr James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Testing drugs that are already used to treat other conditions is a way to speed up the search for the next effective dementia treatment.
“Previous animal studies have shown that the diabetes drug liraglutide can reverse some of the damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease and improve memory.”
However, there was no difference between the two groups in cognitive tests or the amount of amyloid protein in their brains, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Pickett added: “Today’s encouraging results show that the drug can prevent a decline in the amount of energy used by the brain, something that we know occurs in Alzheimer’s disease.
“Although the study was too small to test whether this has any positive effects on memory and thinking, these results are a sign that we’re heading in the right direction.”
The organisation is now funding a larger study using liraglutide and are looking for more participants with mild Alzheimer’s disease to take part.

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